Ger’s Learning Notes #26 Learning techniques

By Ger Driesen

‘Never play when you practice and never practice when you play’. These are the words of top drummer, Thomas Lang, who started his professional career with the Austrian band Falco.

Practice is hard; it’s about trying to achieve something you haven’t mastered yet. That’s a frustrating process and for a bit of relief, we tend to stop practicing for a few minutes of play: applying something we have already mastered because that is satisfying. Don’t. Stick with your practice until you reach your goal. That’s what is called ‘deliberate practice’. It’s one of the learning techniques of this edition of the learning notes.

But there’s also ‘reinforcement’ (teaching pigeons how to play ping pong!), ‘chunking’ and ‘pruning’ as interesting learning techniques that you can apply to design great learning.

Posted on November 29, 2018.

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(1) The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

What’s it about?
Well, that is as straightforward as this title: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice!

Why read it?

  • Clear explains the concept of deliberate practice very clearly via some very nice examples from the fields of sports, politics, cooking and martial arts.
  • Learn the difference between deliberate practice and habits, the role of feedback and why they matter for learning
  • Dive deeper via the 12 links to additional resources integrated in this article.

Where to find it?

The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

(2) Pruning: Your Brain Has A “Delete” Button–Here’s How To Use It

What’s it about?
In general, the central idea of learning is that the number of connections in our brain increases. But getting rid of (pruning) uneffective connections is also important.

Why watch it?

  • The article starts with a very clear explanation of how brain connections (learning) happens and how we can support that.
  • Via the great ‘garden metaphor’, the concept of ‘synaptic pruning’ will be explained–getting rid of uneffective neural pathways. Watch the video!
  • It all ends with three tips on how to make use of these processes in the best way. I like the first one most: sleep!

Where to find it?

Your Brain Has A “Delete” Button–Here’s How To Use It

(3) What Research Tells Us About Chunking Content

What’s it about?
The way learning designers structure content for learners can be of big influence on learning effectivity. Good chunking pays off.

Why read it?

  • The article shows some very clear and practical insights on how chunking works and the elements that are important.
  • Find great and easy-to-use ‘how-to’ tips for good chunking.
  • Because you, as a true pro, want to read all the great evidence-informed materials that Patti Shank writes!

Where to find it?

What Research Tells Us About Chunking Content

(4) Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

by B.F. Skinner

What’s it about?
You might have heard of the concept of ‘reinforcement’ as a learning strategy, which can be used to learn pigeons play ping pong!

Why read it?

  • It’s a classic learning theory of reinforcement by B.F. Skinner
  • You might have heard of the possibility of learning pigeons how to play ping pong, but have you ever seen it?
  • B.F. Skinner himself explains what is happening in the video.

Where to find it?